Warriors wrestle to seed for fourth-place finish at North Coast Section Duals in McKinleyville

The Del Norte High wrestling team matched its best finish ever, placing fourth at the North Coast Section duals in the DII Redwood Empire bracket on Saturday in McKinleyville.

The Warriors received medals for the effort, but the team came ever so close to claiming its first dual banner, given to the tournament's top three finishers.

"For a team that wasn't supposed to be in the hunt, to go clear though and tie for the league dual championships, then come down here and end up one match away from third is incredible," said Del Norte assistant coach Clinton Schaad. "We are really proud of them. That was as close as we have ever been to hanging a banner."

The Warriors faced Ukiah in the consolation finals in a dual to decide third place. The teams were evenly matched but Ukiah was able to pull out a 40-36 victory.

The close four-point loss left the Warriors wondering what could have been if injured starter Tanner Gensaw was available, if Nicole Mattz had been at the NCS Duals rather than the NCS Girls Championships or if one of several close matches had broken the other way.

"If Tanner is there, we win it, if Eric (Turner) doesn't get caught on his back we win it, in Willie Gensaw's match there were some calls on takedowns that were pretty close and we could have won that, if Nicole was there she could have made 108 and taken the forfeit," Schaad said. "It pretty much had to align just right for Ukiah and it did. But it was an exciting match."

Del Norte entered the duals as the fourth seed and cruised to a 57-20 victory over fifth-seeded Terra Linda, the top team from Marin County. Seeds reported in Saturday's Triplicate were inaccurate.

In the semifinals Del Norte ran into a buzz saw in two-time defending champion Winsor. Winsor handed the Warriors by far their worst loss of the season 70-3. Winsor went on to beat Eureka for its third straight NCS dual title.

"Winsor was a dominant team all day," Schaad said." They beat everybody pretty soundly, including us and Eureka."

After the loss, Del Norte rebounded for a 54-27 victory over No. 6 Redwood in the consolation semifinals to earn a place in the consolation final.

Del Norte was one of three teams from the Humboldt-Del Norte league in attendance in McKinleyville, and the HDN had an impressive showing overall. In addition to Del Norte's fourth place finish, Eureka finished second in DII and McKinleyville captured the NCS DI dual championship.

"It is a good showing for our league," Schaad said. "We are way up here in the north and people tend to forget about us. A lot of people think that San Francisco or Santa Rosa is the end of California. For us up here in the north to wrestle teams from all the different counties and all the different teams, to have all three of our teams bring home medals is pretty good."

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.